Every year in Sogliano, a little village in the hills of Cesena, there’s a tradition that goes on since centuries, recalling the time when Malatesta family used to govern these lands. The fossa is a natural hole or better is a hole that peasants used to carve in the ground to store and preserve their food from the frequent attack of the enemies. Those were times of war.
How the fossa cheese was born
These holes had a strategic place. Every family used to have its own in the house, protected from foreign eyes, so that they could easily have access to it. These holes carved in tuff, a natural stone very common in the area, have very special qualities. They are fresh, keep a constant temperature and have a constant humidity. The perfect place to store food.
The legend says that by chance a peasant left a piece of cheese inside a Fossa. After some months he discovered that this cheese had changed: it stinked a lot and had a bad aspect. But the taste was good.
From that time many others began to put some cheeses in the fossa, wrapped in line tissue bags. And so the tradition started.
Every summer, the producers call the fossa man and bring the cheeses. There is a very specific packaging procedure: white tissue bags with the identifying number of the producer and a label of the fossa man.
He must be a professional since from the way he puts the cheeses in the fossa, depends the final results.
The fossa: how they are
A whole morning to put the cheeses inside, a very careful work that takes hours to be done. The fossa’s man dives down and covers it very careful with straw to absorb the wall’s humidity, while the floor is a wooden one, some cm off the ground. Before that he puts the cheeses in white cotton fabric bags, 8 for each bag, puts a mark and seals every bag. The bags are placed one above the other in order to fill the fossa. It is hot and humid and dark inside, not so easy to do a good work, that is why fossa man is a very hard work. Every year the fossa must be stuffed with straw and this is the first important detail that creates the cheese as it is.
The fossa are then closed with chalk and so remain for three months. Until the end of November when, with a official ceremony, they are opened, on Saint Catherine’s day (25th november). In that day Sogliano is invaded by thousands of people waiting for this big event, curious to taste and also to see the new cheese. The more than 40 producers in the area offer their production to people coming from all over Italy and abroad too.
What more you need to know about Sogliano to go and taste? here you can find a little map to arrive, remeber to take the Via Emilia, Rimini direction and than you will arrive quite easily.